Clemson University

Clemson recap: Game balls, analysis, notes, buzz

Game balls

Safety Michael Hamlin became the fifth player in program history to record three interceptions in a game, joining Alex Ardley, Brian Dawkins, Leomont Evans and Kit Jackson.

Junior center Thomas Austin stayed in and kept the inexperienced newcomers going in the right direction while his fellow starters shared snaps with the second-stringers.

What went right

Could Clemson really have proved anything positive against The Citadel, no matter how large the rout? So there was something to be said for leaving without exposing additional weaknesses or sustaining significant injuries. The Tigers followed form of their usual blowout wins against non-BCS conference teams — establish the run, pad the stats of the offensive stars to boost morale and move on.

What went wrong

Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning hears the criticism that his zone coverages are too soft. He pointed out that Clemson’s numerous blown coverages by safeties and linebackers — resulting in 229 first-half passing yards allowed — were on man-to-man defenses. The Tigers may have the cornerbacks to play man coverage, but the assignment gaffes underscore the need to stick with zone until other players show they can handle man.

Key stat

In his seven career games against teams from non-BCS conferences, senior running back James Davis has 696 yards on 90 carries, an average of 7.7 yards per carry. Davis has 11 touchdowns in those games. He amassed 107 yards and a score on 13 carries against The Citadel.

Injury update

Defensive end Ricky Sapp (bruised knee) and reserve receiver Terrance Ashe (sprained ankle) sat out and is considered questionable for the North Carolina State contest. Left tackle Chris Hairston’s status after his post-game motorized scooter accident Saturday will be disclosed today.

Extra points

ACC career receptions leader Aaron Kelly had two catches for 15 yards. Coach Tommy Bowden said The Citadel played such deep coverage, the Tigers used Kelly mostly as a decoy. ... The Citadel’s 17 points were the most the Bulldogs have scored against Clemson since 1924. The Tigers have won 15 in a row in the series, dating to 1932. ... Clemson is 53-0-1 when totaling more than 500 yards of offense.

The buzz

Might The Citadel have possessed the most potent offense Clemson will see during its four-game home stand? N.C. State sputtered along against William & Mary until third-string quarterback Harrison Beck got it together. After playing host to South Carolina State, the Tigers then get Maryland, which mustered 14 points in a loss to Middle Tennessee State.

Up next

Clemson begins conference play with a noon game Saturday against the Wolfpack (1-1), whom it toasted 42-20 last year. While the Tigers should be favored heavily, N.C. State’s defensive front, as well as middle linebacker Nate Irving, could challenge their inexperienced offensive line.